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Aloha! to Ban the Box Updates in Hawaii

Grab your cup of Kona coffee, and let’s catch up on hiring on island time. Riding waves of new hires under Hawaii’s existing ban the box law doesn’t have to be a grind.  If you obtain background reports on individuals that live or work in Hawaii, keep on reading.

What Hawaii’s Ban the Box Law Says

Hawaii may be the childhood home to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s also home to one of the oldest ban the box laws in the U.S.  Hawaii’s law before the amendments outlined below, with some exceptions, had restricted employers from:

  • Inquiring into and considering conviction records for prospective employees until after a conditional offer of employment.
  • Withdrawing a conditional offer of employment based on conviction records unless the conviction had a “rational relationship” to the position’s duties and responsibilities.
  • Considering conviction records outside of 10 years, excluding periods of incarceration.

To read the version of Hawaii’s law before the amendments outlined below, click here.

Riding a Wave of Tighter Restrictions

First enacted in 1998, Hawaii’s ban the box law paved the way for other laws like it. Now it catches the wave of tighter restrictions. Hawaii has recently amended its ban the box law.  The previous 10-year “look back” period – or how far back a background check may go – has been tightened up.  As of September 15, 2020, Hawaii employers can only consider, with some exceptions:

  • Seven (7) years of conviction history for felony convictions, excluding periods of incarceration.
  • Five (5) years of conviction history for misdemeanor convictions, excluding periods of incarceration.

To see the full text of Hawaii’s amendments to its ban the box law, click here.

Calm Waters: What Has Stayed the Same

The other points of Hawaii’s ban the box law remain.

  • You must still wait. Wait until you make a conditional job offer before looking into conviction history.
  • The conviction history must be relevant. If you consider a job applicant’s conviction history, keep a key point in mind. The conviction must have a “rational relationship” to the duties and responsibilities of the position.

You and your hiring team may need to be well-versed in ban the box laws. Hawaii’s ban the box law is not an island. It is among many state and local laws like it, each with its own complex provisions.  Please check with your legal counsel regarding fair and compliant hiring practices.

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